To Caracas with love

Houda Boulahbel
Systems Thinking Made Simple
3 min readFeb 7, 2024

Over a year ago, I received this message in response to my blog on Medium:

𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠

𝐈 𝐚𝐦 𝐚 60 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐚𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐡

𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐲𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐫

𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞.

𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐚𝐬

I laughed out loud when I first read it. Not because it was funny, but because I was flattered that my blog drove someone to write to me and ask me to help them think differently.

I was intrigued. I went back to him to find out more. I discovered that he was a retired fireman-turned-occupational health and safety specialist.

He wants to think like a systems thinker, because he noticed that they talk less and do more.

In a short exchange, he got me thinking about the thinking in systems thinking (😊). He made me reflect on my own learning journey and what helped me become more and more comfortable with systems thinking.

My journey started with half a dozen courses, and countless hours practicing with diagrams and reading people’s exchanges online. I then decided to learn from real-world case studies instead of theory. I meticulously studied dozens of case studies and reflected on what went well, and what did not.

In the last year alone, I spoke to over a hundred people (I lost count), to get a feel for their experience, their successes and failures.

I wrote about my journey, partly to share what I learned, but also to organise my learning and build clarity to my thoughts. I learned from you, dearest readers as you generously offered your perspectives and shared resources and materials.

All of these things helped. Some helped more than others, but can you guess what the single most important thing that made a difference was?

Put simply: I worked hard to change my mindset: the way I see, interpret and react to things.

And you know what happened after that?

I could see clearly which methods would be useful in my context, which information I needed, and if I needed help, who to turn to.

This freed me from trying to follow the latest systems thinking toolkits, mapping methods, and other people’s thought process.

My friend from Caracas was onto something. He never asked me for any templates or exercises to use in his workshops. He asked me to help him think differently so that he can solve the problems that matter to him, in the way that makes the most sense in his context.

I remembered a quote by Harrington Emerson:

As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods ignoring principles is sure to have trouble.

So, inspired by my friend from Caracas, I decided to create a series of practical exercises, videos, and case studies to help anyone with similar aspirations, to experience what it feels like to think in systems.

I compiled them all into a short and practical online course that is entirely focused on the mindset of a systems thinker, and is accessible from Caracas to London and everywhere in between.

It has been a labour of love, so much so that I keep holding on to it like a little baby, continuously iterating, testing and refining.

I am almost ready to let it out in the world. I promised my husband that I would…very soon!

p.s. Jose, my friend, I am ready whenever you are!



Houda Boulahbel
Systems Thinking Made Simple

Systems thinking consultant and educator. Ex-cancer research scientist. Curious about the world. Check out my website: